Kathryn Minshew, cofounder and CEO of the career advice and job listings site The Muse, hadn't been looking to hire a head of marketing in 2012.
Then she received a LinkedIn message from Elliot Bell that changed her mind. Bell was hired as the director of marketing a few months later. He worked at The Muse for four years.
Here's the full text of the LinkedIn message he sent Minshew. It's reprinted in "The New Rules of Work," the new book Minshew wrote with her cofounder and COO, Alex Cavoulacos.
While slightly out of place, I attended the Women 2.0 conference yesterday with EatDrinkJobs and had the chance to see you pitch. I was blown away by you, your team, and most of all, your company.
I spent six years at Seamless.com, working closely with amazing leaders like Jason Finger (who you know well). I see such amazing potential in your company, and I would love to be a part of it in any way. My primary focus in marketing, with a lot of experience marketing to the same corporations and users you seem to be attracting. I'd love to tell you more about how my skill set could help you all reach and exceed your current growth goals.
Congrats on all your current success. Again, I'd love to find a time to chat more about the company and tell you how I could help.
In an interview with Business Insider, Minshew broke down exactly why Bell's message was so compelling:
He included something personal — that he'd seen her speak at a conference.
He said something nice about her — that she and her team blew him away.
He made it clear that he was excited to work with The Muse specifically, and not just any company.
He included two sentences about his background, which was just enough information for her to see whether he'd be a fit.
He mentioned the name of a mutual connection, so she could ask that connection about Bell.
He didn't make an ask that went overboard, like a 30-minute phone call tomorrow — a request Minshew has received.
In an article for The Muse, Bell wrote that the message took all of two minutes to write.
Cavoulacos told Business Insider about the rationale behind sending a cold email (or LinkedIn message):
"You are never going to get what you don't ask for. And what was the worst-case scenario here? Kathryn didn't see the email, didn't read the email, she wrote back and said, 'Sorry, no'? You're literally in the exact same position you were before."
Her observation echoes something Liz Wessel, a former Googler and current CEO of WayUp, has told Business Insider about cold emailing.
"Don't question yourself," Wessel said. "Worst case, they don't respond, and then who cares? Seriously, who cares? Cold email for sure."
If you're struggling to muster up the courage to send a cold message, consider framing the approach differently in your head. As Minshew told Business Insider, "The person on the other end might be just as excited to find someone to work with."
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